As activists continue to push municipalities to defund or unbundle the police, questioning why law enforcement is tasked with responsibilities well beyond enforcing the law, our society can benefit from contemplating how to change the way we respond to individuals experiencing mental health crises.
It’s time. Our system of response has long been to call 911, which often taps police as first responders despite a dire lack of training in safe, appropriate mental health intervention.
Too often, this leads to the unnecessary arrest of individuals – men and women whose diagnoses make it difficult to ask for help or seek their own treatment. Instead of receiving needed care, they’re incarcerated and subjected to the trauma of imprisonment. In the worst cases, mentally ill individuals are seriously injured or killed by police officers.
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